Cheryl Ann Kary, the executive director of Sacred Pipe Resource Center in Mandan, will lead a workshop on Friday that seeks understanding of love and domestic violence.

In an attempt to stem what one North Dakota senator characterizes as "a crisis of exploitation, domestic violence and murder," the Sacred Pipe Resource Center is hosting a workshop, "Tipi Creeping or Stalking: Indian Love and Domestic Violence."

In the wake of the #MeToo and Time's Up movements, along with the growing discussion on missing and murdered indigenous women, the workshop, which will run from 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Friday, will examine the traditional roles and views on male and female relationships in the Native American culture. The event at the Sacred Pipe Resource Center's board room, 400 W. Main St., Mandan, also will offer discussion on the historical breakdown that eventually led to changes in these roles.

Cheryl Ann Kary, the center's executive director and event host, said there are thin lines between teepee creeping, which can involve stalking and emotional and physical abuse, and pursuing a love interest.

"I want to talk about how to get back in balance. How do we bring the discussion and awareness and, hopefully, our practices back to respectful courting and healthy relationships?" Kary said.  

According to the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network, Native American women are at the greatest risk for sexual violence. The organization has reported, on average, American Indians 12 and older experience 5,900 sexual assaults per year.

American Indians are twice as likely to experience a rape or sexual assault as compared to other races.

Forty-one percent of sexual assaults against American Indians are committed by a stranger, 34 percent by an acquaintance and 25 percent by an intimate  or family member.

"Native women and girls in the United States face a crisis of exploitation, domestic violence and murder — we must take action to protect them," said Sen. Heidi Heitkamp, D-N.D., in a statement to the Mandan News.

“Unfortunately, the tragic pattern of violence on reservations is unknown to many outside Indian Country. That’s why it’s so important to raise awareness about this epidemic at the state and national levels, as indigenous populations face challenges that urgently require solutions, more federal resources and strengthened community outreach," she said.

Last fall, Heitkamp introduced Savanna’s Act, named in honor of Savanna LaFontaine-Greywind, a pregnant Fargo woman who was murdered in August.

The bill would require improved tribal access to certain federal crime information databases as well as improved access to local, regional, state and federal crime information databases and criminal justice information systems during the annual consultations, create standardized protocols for responding to cases of missing and murdered Native Americans and require an annual report to Congress.